Lack of compassion from ‘corporate’ upsets widow

A letter was published on April 6 regarding a local cemetery removing all items from a grave with no notification. I also had this experience.

My beloved husband of 32 years passed away March 21, 2011. I visit our grave site at a local cemetery every week and replace the flowers in our vases with each season and/or occasion and make sure the headstone and grave site are kept up nicely. I was told in the beginning that I could put anything at the grave site as long as it did not interfere with mowing which I totally understand. There were sentimental items and figurines sitting on the base of the headstone as well as a WVU garden flag placed there by one of his siblings who lives in another state and wind chime both of which I made sure was kept up next to the headstone so as not to interfere with mowing/weed eating. There was never a problem the last two summers with any of these items. Someone else had placed a small solar light in the ground up next to the headstone.

March 21, 2013 marked the second anniversary of his death. I was scheduled to be out of town that day and the next for my employer so went to the grave site the evening of March 20, 2013. I was shocked and very upset to discover that all of the items on his headstone, his WVU flag, wind chime, solar light, and all of the flowers in the vases were all gone! As I stood there looking out into the cemetery it occurred to me that there was no color at all in what is usually a very bright and colorful place and was now dull and colorless. I have since found out that some families received a letter advising that all items would be removed and none could be replaced during mowing season. Not only was it emotional enough to be the anniversary of his death, but then to discover this upon arrival with no warning was devastating!

The office was closed so I called the following day to ask where all of my husband’s things were. I was told that “corporate” had ordered everything be removed from all grave sites and discarded and when ‘corporate’ reps visited after issuing the order, they remarked that it was ‘exactly’ like they wanted it. A spring ‘clean sweep’ is usually done but not to this extent. I was then told that my husband’s flag was seen ‘out back’ and if I wanted to get it and try to find his other things I could. When I asked where everything was I was informed that all was ‘out back down over the hill’.

When I got back into town my son and I went out to try to find our items. We found a gigantic mount of flowers. There was no way to find ours so we didn’t even try. We also found a few items left on a low-boy so we looked there. We found the flag and wind chime holder. No wind chimes, no figurines, no solar light, no stained glass items that were made for my husband. We saw many broken items that belonged to others.

When I spoke to the very nice woman in the office I asked what could now be kept at the grave site since it was obvious that the rules have changed and if anything could be put on the headstone to be left since, after all, this is not in the way of mowing or weed eating. She said she would have to check with “corporate.” I asked that, if the answer is that nothing can be left on the headstone, I would like a name and address of the person making that decision. She got back with me the following day and said she was informed that nothing can be at the grave sites during mowing season except in the vases that are attached to the headstone. She also gave me a name and address of who I could contact.

I have several issues with this whole despicable process. Why wasn’t I and others notified that all of the items were going to be removed since this is different than in years past? I have been told it was advertised in the Marietta Times. I, and many others, do not get the paper! Why were some notified by letter and some not? Why were items on the headstone removed? They are not in the way of mowing. I have spoken to others who said that now they are missing figurines that have been on their families’ headstones for years and have never been removed. Why were the flowers removed from the vases? Again, not in the way of mowing and I replace them regularly. They were not Christmas flowers. We bought a large headstone with room enough to place memorabilia. Items placed on it are in no way interfering with mowing.

I find the total lack of compassion for family members disgusting and hurtful. Even if I didn’t agree with the new rules I would have followed them had I known. But to arrive at a very emotional time to begin with and then discover this had been done was uncalled for and preventable. “Corporate” needs to develop a few feelings for others.

Mashellda Gibbs